If we cannot identify the author of this psalm with any other known individual, we must certainly set aside the traditional ascription to David. Psalm 69:10-12, cannot by any ingenuity be worked into his known history. Psalm 69:20 does not give a picture of David’s condition at any time, for he always found a Nathan or a Barzillai even in his darkest hour. The conclusion (see Note Psalm 69:33), if not, as some think, a liturgical addition of a later date than the rest of the psalm, speaking as it does the language of past exile times, is another argument against the inscription. It also makes against an opinion shared by many critics, that refers this, together with Psalms 10, &c., to Jeremiah. The real author is lost in the general sufferings of these victims of religious persecution (Psalm 69:9), for whom he speaks (Psalm 69:6.) The expression of this affliction is certainly figurative—and never has grief found a more copious imagery—and therefore we cannot fix the precise nature of the persecution. There appear, however, to have been two parties in Israel itself, one zealous for the national religion, the other indifferent to it, or even scornful of it (Psalm 69:9-13). It is on the latter that the fierce torrent of invective that begins with Psalm 69:22 is poured—an invective we can best appreciate, if we cannot excuse it, by remembering that it was the outcome, not of personal hatred, but of religious exclusiveness. Except Psalms 22, no other hymn from ancient Israel supplied more for quotation and application to the young Christian community, when searching deep into the recognised sacred writings of their nation to prove that the despised and suffering one was the Christ. That in so doing they fastened on accidental coincidences, and altogether ignored the impassable distance between one who could be the mouthpiece of such terrible curses and Jesus Christ, need not blind us to the illustration which is thrown on Him and His life by the suffering and endurance of this, as of all martyrs in a right cause. The psalm falls into stanzas, but not all of equal length. The parallelism is varied by triplets.
Title.—See title Psalms 4, 45
“How have I knelt with arms of my aspiring
Lifted all night in irresponsive air,
Dazed and amazed with overmuch desiring,
Blank with the utter agony of prayer.”
St. Paul, by F. Myers.
Wrongfully.—Better, without cause. Comp. Psalm 35:19.
Then I restored.—Rather, what I did not steal I must then restore, possibly a proverbial saying to express harsh and unjust treatment. Comp. Ps. Xxxv. 11; Jeremiah 15:10.
For thy sake.—It is plain from Psalm 69:9 that these words can only mean that the reproach under which the psalmist (or the community of which he was the spokesman) laboured was borne in the cause of religion. (Comp. Jeremiah 15:15.)
And the reproaches.—See St. Paul’s application of these words Romans 15:3. If the author had been thinking chiefly of his sin as the cause of the reproach of God, surely he would have said “the reproaches of these that reproach me are fallen upon Thee.” The intention seems to be that though in his own eyes a very insignificant and unworthy member of the community, yet being one who burnt with zeal for it, he felt as personally directed against himself all the taunts aimed at Jehovah and His religion.
To my reproach.—Quite literally and better, a reproach to me. Those who made light of the covenant altogether, who were in heart apostates both to faith and patriotism, would naturally treat with contempt those outward signs by which an erring Israelite owned his offence and sought reconciliation.
And I was the song.—Literally, and songs of those drinking strong drink, but we must supply the pronoun.
But as for me my prayer (is) to Thee
Jehovah in a time of grace,
God in the abundance of Thy (covenant) mercy
Hear me with the faithfulness of Thy help.
For the favourable or gracious time comp Isaiah 49:8.
Whatever the sin of Psalm 69:5, &c., it had not cut the offender off from the sense of the blessings of the covenant, or he had been by pardon restored to it.
Vinegar.—Sour wine would not be rejected as unpalatable (see Note Ruth 2:14). It was forbidden to Nazarites as a luxury (Numbers 6:3). Was the author of the psalm possibly a Nazarite? or are the expressions in the psalm merely figurative. Comp.
“The banquet where the meats became
And that which.—Rather, and to them in peace a noose. Seated at the banquet, amid every sign of peace, and every means of enjoyment, let their surroundings of security and pleasure become their snare and ruin. (Comp. 1 Thessalonians 5:3. See St. Paul’s citation, Romans 11:9, New Testament Commentary.)
(27) Add iniquity—This may be understood in two different senses: (1) Let sin be added to sin in thy account, till the tale be full. (2) Add guilt for guilt, i.e., for each wrong committed write down a punishment.
And let them not . . .—i.e., let them not be justified in thy sight; not gain their cause at thy tribunal.
(31) That hath . . .—Literally, showing horns and dividing the hoofs, marking at once clean animals, and those of fit age for sacrifice.
And your heart . . .—Better, may your heart live. (See Psalm 22:5.)